It would have been difficult to recognize Dillon Gee at Citi Field Kids Day had he not been wearing his No. 35 jersey. He was sporting a dark beard and doesn’t exactly have the impressive frame of a Mike Pelfrey. But similar to Josh Thole, here’s another young guy who will do whatever it takes to help out the ballclub anyway he can.
In addition to announcing Pelfrey as the Opening Day starter, Terry Collins introduced Gee as a Major League quality pitcher. Whether or not that means Gee will be in the rotation to start the season is uncertain. But Collins expects Gee to make an impact with the big club at some point in 2011.
“I don’t know anything for sure,” said Gee. “I just try to prepare myself to be ready for whatever they throw my way. I’ll go in there and pitch the best I can and let them make decisions after that.”
Gee was 2-2 with a sub-3.00 ERA in five starts late last season. Still, he is unsure if he made enough of an impression. He just tried to go out there each start and do his best.
“You do what you can to stick around, and hopefully it works,” said Gee. “I think it was great to get up here and experience the whole big league atmosphere and come in and get my feet wet a little bit.”
The recent signings of Chris Young and Chris Capuano may impede Gee’s road to the majors in the early part of this season, but he said he will not let that affect him. If Capuano projects as the long reliever, Gee may be thrown into action as the fifth starter.
“I try not to look ahead that far,” said Gee. “I look at what I can control today. When you want to get the best out of people, you make them compete, and that’s what going to happen. I’ll do anything I can to help the team. If they see me in Buffalo as helping the team, then that’s what I’ll do to the best of my ability.”
A possible plan moving forward with Gee is for him to get as much exposure as possible in AAA. If the Mets start the season with a rotation featuring Pelfrey, Dickey, Niese, Young and Capuano, Gee becomes the primary measure of insurance. Young and Capuano have been shown to be injury prone over their careers, so Gee must be ready for the call.
“Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues, but in terms of development and the future, I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do,” said Gee.
In talking about his repertoire, Gee said he is confident in throwing four pitches. His change-up is a big key, he said, and he looks to see if it’s there early in the game.
I asked Gee if he will prepare any differently this spring training knowing that he will likely play a significant role for this team at some point this season. Gee responded with following words of wisdom:
“I usually keep the base of my work the same. It doesn’t matter if I’m pitching in a little league game or a big league game. I’m trying to do the best that I can do and control everything that I can control. I just prepare the same way and take every day as my last.”
My guess is that Gee would mow down a lineup of little leaguers, forcing many of them to cry in the process. But seriously, Gee will serve as one of the many X-factors to this season, and I’m sure he’ll be ready when his number is called.